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Neck injury due to staircase modification. - 01/31/11 08:03 PM
I was asked to document the staircase and stairwell modification that was at the root of an injury sustained by a real estate agent that I know. She was showing the house and was walking up the staircase from the basement and hit her head on the stairwell ceiling because it was too low. Apparently, the staircase to the second floor was changed so there were three initial steps with a 90 degree turn installed that were not there originally, so the structure under the stairs was changed, and this resulted in an unusually low stairwell ceiling height as you ascend/decsend the (3 comments)
"We bought it this way and never had a problem!" - 01/30/11 09:57 AM
This statement is one I hear more often than not. I find a defect in an old house that I have to bring to the attention of the buyer. I realize your house has not collapsed, but certain modifications should never be done, and just cannot go unnoticed and unreported. I did a home inspection in St. Albans Queens yesterday, and found quite a few problems. The house had been built in the 1930's, and had been heavily modified. The roof rafters had been CUT (see picture) because someone wanted a finished ceiling in an attic. The attic was not big enough to use (3 comments)
One of the biggest problems associated with illegal apartments on Long Island... - 01/29/11 06:34 PM
Because us Long Islanders live in one of the most highly taxed areas on planet earth, some of us resort to converting garages and basements into illegal apartments. While I see this all the time, the term "illegal apartment' never appears in my inspection report. Even though this hurts us all as far as revenue that never makes it to our local and Federal governments, I don't particularly care. I have friends that have done it, but luckily I never had to do it to pay the bills or make the mortgage. But what I do care about is the safety of such (2 comments)
Why do balloon framed houses burn down so quickly? - 01/29/11 09:27 AM
Many people look at me like I have three heads when I tell them the house is balloon framed. This was the way old houses were built from the early 1900's to WWII. Part of what this means is that that the 2 by 4 wall studs are very long and extend all the way into the attic. These studs are usually 16 inches on center, but I have seen them further apart. You can see these from the basement as you look above the foundation where the sill and rim joists are located. Because you can see the exterior sheathing (4 comments)
How to begin a home inspection on the right foot with the seller, and their agent. - 01/27/11 03:21 PM
Over the years I have developed my professional persona to keep all parties invovled aware of what a home inspection is, and is not. I have had very positive feedback from sellers and their agents alike. I usually meet the seller at the door, and do a quick presentation. I invite the agent when present to listen in. I ask if they have had an inspection before, so I can ascertain if they are familiar with the process. If I am told yes, I shorten it a bit, but still give them 'the schpiel' "Hello Mrs. Jones. I am here to inspect your home and let (1 comments)
Gas and oil fired heating equipment should have SEPARATE chimneys, but they rarely do. - 01/27/11 06:27 AM
Many people on Long Island have oil-fired equipment (boiler) and a gas-fired water heater, and both vent to the same chimney exhaust. This is considered an improper installation, but has become somewhat commonplace. The heating technicians will normally connect the flue pipe for the gas water heater above the flue pipe for the oil-fired boiler. There should be 6 inches between these flue pipes, but again rarely is this the case. Water vapor is a by-product of gas fired exhaust, and this condensate can react with the masonry and mix with oil fired exhaust gasses to form an acid similar to acid rain. This acid can eventually (4 comments)
What is blatanty obvious to me may not be obvious to you. - 01/26/11 02:04 PM
Inspectors are sometimes in the right place at just the right time to see a possible defect, or prevent a possible disaster. Take a glass shower door. Today in Brightwaters NY I observed a recently refurbished bathroom on the first floor of a small cape. The workmanship was pretty good in this bathroom, and fit and finish of the vanity and cabinets was also nice. There was a beautiful newly tiled shower and separate bathtub, but the shower door had an issue. The buyer was just opening the door when I walked in, and luckily I was able to stop the door (4 comments)
Home inspectors are not chimney technicians. - 01/25/11 02:18 PM
I read a blog recently and it was about inspectors who don't inspect certain aspects of the houses they look at. They merely say "have a licensed bla bla bla evaluate the bla bla bla". The feeling I got from this blog was that we try to pass off as much as we can to the next higher authority, and this relieves us of the liability and puts it on the higher authority. Mainly this is because we are so 'scared of being sued'. Most inspectors belong to an association like mine - NAHI - the National Association of Home Inspectors, and MAHI (5 comments)
Why do some people purposely make it difficult to inspect their home? - 01/24/11 10:25 PM
I had one hell of an inspection in Miller Place NY today. The seller had an attitude from the word go. I was told I could not enter one of the bedrooms. I was not allowed to turn on the washer or dryer cause she did not remove the clothes before I got there. I was told I could not adjust the thermostat so I could watch the boiler as it fired. I was told I cannot go in the garage because her ex-husbands antique car was in there and he doesn't want it scratched. The buyers could not show up (31 comments)
How to protect your children from lead based paint in New York. - 01/23/11 10:31 PM
I have been getting more and more calls lately regarding buyers of older homes in the New York City and Long Island area regarding lead based paint. Several articles have been recently been published in local newspapers, and of course the internet abound with information regarding this topic. Some information is correct, and some has been over-blown. Some people make it out to be the end of the world, and others trivialize the hazards. As always, do YOUR OWN research! Any home or apartment or condo built in 1978 and before can have lead based paint in it. But just because the house was built in (1 comments)
How to burn a house down in one easy lesson! - 01/23/11 05:16 PM
Of all the defects I see consistantly, the most consistant of the consistant is poor wiring/electrical practices. Electrical work done by homeowners and their "professionals" (Uncle Louie) is many times sub-standard. I inspected a home in Greenport, NY yesterday and found tons of electrical issues. One of the more glaring things I found was wiring attached to copper baseboard piping in the basement. Instead of properly stapling wire to the joists, it was apparent that someone thought it was infinately easier (and quicker I guess) to ty-wrap the wires to the piping in the basement ceiling. This is a serious fire hazard, (6 comments)
Have you ever been to Tinytown? - 01/18/11 09:52 AM
There is a small area in North Merrick on Long Island where a campground existed in the 1800's. In this area, there are still several very small houses that were part of the camp, and were administrative offices and counselor cabins. A few of these houses still exist (see photo), although many were taken down, built upon, or were razed to make way for normal size homes. These old homes are a unique part of Long Island history, and should be left in their current state. I found this place many years ago when some friends and myself wandered through this (1 comments)
What do you mean 'my electrical box needs a tune-up?' - 01/07/11 10:56 AM
Very often I see loose wiring connections in service panels in the homes I inspect. The screws that hold the wire in the breaker tend to loosen over the years due to expansion and contraction when voltage passes through the wire, The steel screw expands and contracts at a different rate (as all metals do) than the copper wire, and they loosen. I have also found loose wires in newer service boxes because the electrician doesn't check his work. I found a screw in a service panel yesterday in Bohemia that was so loose is was arcing! (shooting sparks) Your service (2 comments)
Why does nobody teach their children hand skills? - 01/03/11 09:10 PM
I am constantly meeting younger people at the home inspections I perform, and many have little to no mechanical knowledge about ANYTHING! They cannot relate to basic maintenance, cannot read a tape measure, and cannot twist a screwdriver. If I had to call someone to fix a loose hinge on a cabinet, or fix a leak under the sink, I would go nuts. But most of the younger people I meet - and not just at home inspections - have few mechanical skills. And many aren't into learning them either. I suppose these people will be making enough money to pay to (2 comments)
Disclaimer: ActiveRain Corp. does not necessarily endorse the real estate agents, loan officers and brokers listed on this site. These real estate profiles, blogs and blog entries are provided here as a courtesy to our visitors to help them make an informed decision when buying or selling a house. ActiveRain Corp. takes no responsibility for the content in these profiles, that are written by the members of this community.